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EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Less than half of U.S. workers believe their employer supports a healthy lifestyle

Despite the prevalence of workplace wellness efforts, only one-third of American workers say they regularly participate in the health promotion programs provided by their employer, according to a new survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States.

Additionally, less than half of working Americans (44 percent) say the climate in their organization supports employee well-being, and one in three reports being chronically stressed on the job. The APA survey suggests a key part of the solution is senior leadership support.

Nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of employees with senior managers who show support through involvement and commitment to well-being initiatives say their organization helps employees develop a healthy lifestyle, compared with just 11 percent who work in an organization without that leadership support, according to the survey.

The survey finds widespread links between support from senior leaders and a variety of employee and organizational outcomes, with more than nine in 10 workers saying they feel motivated to do their best (91 percent vs. 38 percent of those without leadership support), are satisfied with their job (91 percent vs. 30 percent), and have a positive relationship with supervisors (91 percent vs. 54 percent) and coworkers (93 percent vs. 72 percent).

These employees are also more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work (89 percent vs. 17 percent), and fewer say they intend to leave their job in the next year (25 percent vs. 51 percent).

Among all employees surveyed, 33 percent say they typically feel tense or stressed out during the workday, an increase in the percentage of those reporting chronic job stress for the first time in three years. Only 41 percent say their employer helps workers develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“Promoting employee well-being isn’t a singular activity, but is instead set up in a climate that is cultivated, embraced, and supported by high-level leaders and managers,” says David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, director of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence. “When supervisors’ actions match their words, employees notice.”

And while leadership support is related to how employees feel about their work, only four in 10 working Americans say their senior managers are involved in and committed to well-being initiatives.

When it comes to building a climate of well-being, employers need to look beyond just physical health to help employees feel recognized, valued, and involved, and create opportunities for growth and development, Ballard says. But the survey shows employers are falling short in their efforts.

Overall, only about half of employed adults say they feel valued by their employer (53 percent) and that the rewards and recognition they receive reflect the effort they put into their work (50 percent).  Even fewer say the recognition they receive reflects their contributions to the organization (47 percent) and is based on a fair performance evaluation system (47 percent).

Just half of working Americans say they believe their employer provides enough opportunities to be involved in decision-making and fewer than that (46 percent) say they regularly participate in activities that involve them in making decisions, solving problems or settings goals.

With lack of opportunity for growth or advancement being second only to low salaries as a source of job stress, only half of the U.S. workforce report being satisfied with the development opportunities offered by their employer, and just 43 percent say their employer provides sufficient opportunity for internal advancement.

“Many employers say they focus on workplace wellness, but what is put into place is too often individual programs or policies that aren’t supported by the organization’s culture,” Ballard says. “Employers who truly embrace well-being as part of how they do business create a workplace where both employees and the organization thrive.”


Editor’s picks:

Why your medical practice should implement an employee wellness program—and how to do it


EEOC proposes rules for employer wellness programs to avoid potential discrimination


5 HR issues to review and keep on your radar


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